Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo’s CEO, believes that the COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate the decline of the internal combustion engine. The executive made his comments in a Financial Times Global Boardroom conference.

Volvo is currently working on its plan to make an electric version of every one of its cars, so the executive is optimistic about the future of EVs. But he has some evidence to back up his prediction.

Although sales of EVs are down by about 70% in Europe, China, which is through the worst of the first wave of the pandemic, has seen a sharp increase in new EV purchases. 

“If those signals are right, they speak for a good recovery," he said. "I really hope this is the case, and anything else will be a disaster for the business."

Samuelsson also believes that it will be in governments’ best interest to further incentivize new EV purchases. He believes, though, that a “Cash for Clunkers” scheme is a waste of money.

If new EV sales rise around the world following the pandemic—there’s strong evidence to suggest, at least, that car purchases will go up as people seek to avoid public transit—then Samuelsson argues that it will be good for manufacturing.

"Europe and the US need to have more manufacturing jobs,” said Samuelsson. “We need to build cars where we sell them. We can't rely on China to build everything."